How the Milwaukee Bucks, winners of 16 straight games, can keep the streak alive

The Milwaukee Bucks aren’t quite in historic territory yet. By winning their 16th consecutive game on Wednesday, they join a group of 34 teams in NBA history with equally long streaks. This list is shrinking very, very quickly. Only 24 teams have won 17 consecutive victories, and only 17 have achieved 18 consecutive victories. By the time you get to 19 wins in a row, the list is down to just 10, but 20? We have reached single digits with only six teams.

So the Bucks may not be threatening the record books just yet, but it’s not far off either. Of course, Giannis Antetokounmpo is hardly unfamiliar with this territory. His Bucks won nine games in a row to open the season, and it’s not even the longest winning streak of his career. The 2019-20 Bucks played 18 straight games.

Milwaukee knows how much harder each win gets at this stage. There’s a reason that of the 34 teams that made it this far, only one club, the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, ever got 16 more en route to a breakneck 33-game streak. Milwaukee is diving into history in earnest on Saturday, so let’s take a look at their upcoming schedule to see how far the Bucks can go with this.

The toughest yet

On Saturday, the Bucks will host the Philadelphia 76ers in a possible Eastern Conference Finals preview. Philadelphia is one of the few teams in the NBA that has a physical match against Antetokounmpo in the form of Joel Embiid. They won their last game against the Bucks back in November. So will this streak end this weekend?

In all likelihood, the answer is no. The first two games these two teams played were in Philadelphia. Saturday’s game is in Milwaukee, where the Bucks are 27-5 and undefeated since Jan. 6. Milwaukee has the advantage otherwise as Philadelphia plays Thursday. But most importantly, this is just a match that belongs to Milwaukee. The Bucks are 10-4 against the 76ers since they hired Mike Budenholzer as their head coach. With that in mind, we can comfortably favor Milwaukee, which has 17 straight wins.

Easier stretch

Milwaukee follows Philadelphia with three very winning games. Here they are in order:

  • The Bucks will travel to Washington on Sunday, March 5 to face the Wizards. This is probably the hardest game of the three. This is the second game in a row and Chris Middleton has yet to play both ends in a row this season. Expect him to play Philadelphia and miss this fight. It’s a road game too, but given the huge talent disparity, the Bucks still need to be in good shape.
  • They will leave for Orlando on Tuesday, March 7th. Want to guess when Orlando last beat Milwaukee head to head in a regular season game? It was February 9, 2019. The Magic are now 21-17 from a 5-20 start, but Milwaukee just shocked Orlando by 22 points on Wednesday.
  • The Bucks will head home on Thursday, March 9 for a game against the Nets. Brooklyn beat them 28-13 in the first few minutes of Monday’s game but trailed 105-76 the rest of the way.

It’s not necessarily a gimmick, but the Bucks can win those games and probably make it to 20 without too much trouble. Here’s where things get tricky:

Series breakers

Let’s assume for a moment that the Bucks scored 20 points. It’s time to head west and face three of the league’s most dangerous teams:

  • Not only will Stephen Curry likely be back by the time the Bucks play the Warriors in San Francisco on March 11, but Golden State will have some extra motivation in this game. As you may remember, the Milwaukee Bucks were the team that snapped Golden State’s 24-game winning streak at the start of the 2015–16 season. If the Bucks enter their building with 20 straight wins, the Warriors will do everything in their power not to get to 21.
  • Two days later, the Bucks would try to stop the Kings from lighting the beam. Despite Sacramento’s 3rd seed and 18-12 home record, this is probably the trio’s easiest game. Why? Fine …
  • For the second straight night of the Western Conference, the Bucks travel to Phoenix to take on Kevin Durant and the Suns. Of course, this will be Phoenix’s second game in a row, and oddly enough, their two previous opponents are identical to Milwaukee (Sacramento on March 11, Golden State on March 13), but with home court advantage. The Suns will be very hard to beat.

The safest bet here is that the winning streak ends somewhere in this group of games. If it’s not? Everything becomes a little easier.

Rest of the way

The Bucks have a nice and easy four-game stretch since the trip to the West Coast: home games against the Pacers, Raptors and Spurs, followed by a road game in Salt Lake City against the Jazz. The easier games are followed by a succession of more difficult ones. The No. 28 win was scheduled to take place on the road to Denver, where the Nuggets are 28-4. The No. 31 win would be at home against the Celtics, while the No. 32 win would be a home battle against the 76ers. No. 33? In Washington. And if they score a record 34th win in a row, they’ll be at home against the Bulls on April 5th.

Are they going to get there? No, probably not. But thanks to this series, the Bucks have already reclaimed the top spot in the Eastern Conference, and the longer they hold that position, the more likely they are to earn home court advantage in the NBA playoffs. It’s a consolation prize that would suit the Bucks just fine. A historic winning streak would be nice, but a much more desirable prize would be a second championship in three years.


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